Government bans use of ‘dark patterns’ on e-commerce platforms; guidelines issued

To protect the interests of consumers, the government has banned the use of “dark patterns” on e-commerce platforms that intend to deceive customers or manipulate their choices. A gazette notification in this regard was issued by the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) on November 30 in the form of “Guidelines for Prevention and Regulation of Dark Patterns”, which will be applicable to all platforms offering goods and services in India and here. This also applies to advertisers and sellers.

Resorting to dark patterns would amount to misleading advertising or unfair trade practices or violation of consumer rights. It said the fine will be imposed as per the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act.

“In emerging digital commerce, dark patterns are increasingly being used by platforms to mislead consumers by manipulating their purchasing choices and behaviour,” Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh told PTI. ‘

He said the notified guidelines will ensure clarity in the minds of all stakeholders – buyers, sellers, marketers and regulators – as to what is and is not acceptable as unfair trade practices, with the latter being liable under the Consumer Protection Act.

According to the notification, dark patterns are defined as any practice or deceptive design pattern using a user interface or user experience interaction on any platform that is designed to mislead or deceive users into doing something. Have done what they did not originally intend or want to do. or impairing consumer autonomy, decision making or choice.

For example, ‘basket sneaking’ is a dark pattern that involves adding additional items such as products, services, donations or payments for donations to a platform at the time of checkout without the user’s consent, such as the total payment amount. Exceeds the amount payable for the product or service selected by the User.

Another dark pattern called “forced action” means forcing a user to take an action that requires the user to purchase an additional item or subscribe or sign up for an unrelated service or product or service. Purchasing or subscribing will require sharing personal information. Originally intended by the user.

Similarly, the CCPA has specified 13 dark patterns to provide as guidance to the industry only.

Initially, CCPA had identified 10 dark patterns but after public consultation another three were included.

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